Just days after the Canadian government announcing the e-coli crisis is over, health officials in the US have now the outbreak has now spread to 15 states across the country. The outbreak caused serious illness in 42 people from five provinces across Canada and is responsible for one death. The cases being found across the US are of the same strain as those reported in Canada, and a lot of them seem to be of the same genetic make-up.
Health officials have blamed romaine lettuce as the root cause of the problem. The CDC have also advised consumers across the continent that they are investigating the cases, and are looking to find the source of the outbreak as soon as possible before the outbreak escalates further.
“The likely source of the outbreak in the United States appears to be leafy greens, but officials have not specifically identified a type of leafy greens eaten by people who became ill,” the CDC said Wednesday. Consumers have been warned to avoid leafy greens until the cause of the outbreak has been identified.
Seven additional cases have now been reported in the US bringing the total number to 24 – two of whom were hospitalized. E-coli symptoms usually start between two and eight days of consuming food infected with the bacteria, although most people fully recover from the illness within a week.
Some of the symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. However, in some cases it can cause a severe illness called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can become life threatening if not treated. E-coli can also be more dangerous in high risk groups, including children, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.
Cases of e-coli have now been reported in New Jersey and Maryland, along with the previous reported infections in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, of which the vast majority were reported between November 15th and December 12th 2017.
Despite the obvious concerns consumers might have over the threat to their health, officials in the US have suggested that they believe the outbreak will be short lived due to the short shelf life of leafy greens. In a statement, the CDC said “Leafy greens typically have a short shelf life, and since the last illness started a month ago, it is likely that contaminated leafy greens linked to this outbreak are no longer available for sale.”
In Canada, health officials have advised that romaine lettuce no longer poses a threat to public health. They said “The Public Health Agency of Canada is no longer advising individuals in affected provinces to consider consuming other types of lettuce, instead of romaine lettuce.”